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Self-directed and Continuous learning

Autonomous development is something I use for many areas of interest, for example areas that need to be explored for the development of my projects. The best example of my self-directedness is the develop of my skills in 3D-animation. I spend many hours informing myself about new technologies and learning new techniques. Especially in the Self-Directed-Learning week I had a high focus on this autonomous form of educating myself. Within my project I educated myself into the direction of stress and goals-achievement-theory. In the future I expect this competency to remain one of the most important competency within our competency system, since this competency enables all other competencies to be developed. I think this competency has strong relations with intrinsically-motivated activities, this means that people will find passion for the things they actually have fun doing. I wish everybody to do the things they are intrinsically motivated to do as this leads to happiness and passion; two things I think are very healthy for development.

Integrating Technology

I used and studied two new technologies in my last semester: I used Jquery mobile to create the DreamBuilder showcase App. And I taught myself to work with Autodesk Maya.

Jquery mobile is a platform that allows users to create web based applications for portable devices (although these applications will also function on computers). Jquery builds forth on the already widely used and praised Jquery library, which makes it easier for web designers to add dynamics to their html and CSS elements. When I continue constructing the DreamBuilder application, I already have a nice foundation with this technology, although a broader understanding of the technology would be necessary.

I started using the 3D package from Autodesk called Maya. Before I started using Maya I had a well developed understanding of 3DS Max, but due to Maya being the industry’s standard I made the switch. At first switching applications gave a lot of frustrations as everything is a little different in the two applications, but after working on a big tutorial package, which covered many basics of Maya I had gained the confidence to start my own project in this new package (both of these are displayed at the 3d animation section). I can see why Maya is the standard in the industry since the software contains many refined tools. In the future I hope to take more advantage of these incredibly smart tools.

Form & Senses

The relation between my project and this competency was the design of the posters for the exhibition and the logo for the DreamBuilder application. This may seem a little insignificant, but having a well designed poster and logo helps to enhance the communication of the idea behind the concept. For the design of the logo I used a sort of evolutionary process (logoDesignProcess). And for the design of the poster I used a technique a friend taught me, when I told him I had much trouble getting these types of promotional materials right he taught me: Keep is simple, Use icons, Use a round font. These three rules really helped to improve my poster design; my poster was clear, readable and as I heard from viewers; visually pleasing.

Apart from this I also spend time developing form and senses in a few other activities:

-The assignment: Exploratory Sketching; This assignment had a high focus on exploration of form.

-Photography: I read a few books and followed a workshop given by Paul Levitton. Also I practiced with my camera a lot, exploring new angles to view the world. See some of the results here.

-Added a visual experience to an audio experience via a 3D-animation clip.

-Design necklace: For my brothers birthday I wanted to make a special present. I designed a necklace, which displayed his producer name and an icon. See below. The product was 3D printed from stainless steel. This little activity showed me the ease of 3D printing with almost any possible material(Integrating Technolohy).

User Focus and Perspective

In my project this competency was very prominent. If we take the education guide and for the definition of the competency: User Focus and Perspective, we find the following: “Understand human characteristics, goals and needs, the context of use, and create empathy with users throughout the design process. Design user-system interaction for user experiences”. This was what a large part of my project was about. I learned that the focus on the psyche of the user really interests me and I want to use this in future projects as well.

I think the psyche of the user interests me because of my interest in coaching. Understanding the issues that withhold certain people from achieving their goals is what I think is a fundamental part of this interest. And this may come forth from my own goals in life, especially back in the days when I still did competitive swimming and had set high goals for myself, goals I never achieved. Understanding the methods and the psyche behind goal achievement could help me and others I influence via social bonds and design.

Social & Cultural Awareness

I think the most prominent signs of a leap forward within this competency is the refinement of my vision in the last twelve months. My vision stems from an expanded knowledge on human psychology and its development over lifetime. The revised vision shows social understanding. I think I can improve my vision to add more cultural awareness to it. The current vision really takes humanity as one type of animal, I want to find out to which extend I justly made this assumption and I hope to do this by traveling and meet people from other cultures around the globe. Are values in other cultures comparable to ours? Do people in other cultures need the same types of social reinforcements as we need? I have read about eastern cultures to be much more holistic then our western culture; maybe their types of goals will be more holistic as well because of their focus on group performance instead of individual performance. The questions posed here may communicate ignorance to this field, but what I think to be of greater importance here is that these questions show knowledge about ignorance. Something I discovered last year: the more you come to know, the more you see that you know nothing at all: The side effect of knowledge is awareness of ignorance.

Business Process Design

Within this competency I made progress through an event that actually shows a sort of negative progress, but when used correctly creates a great opportunity for reflection. This year the company two fellow entrepreneurs and I started was shut down. We started of very enthusiastic about our company and made great plans for “Succes Bijles”. More information about Succes Bijles can be found on our still existing homepage: We wrote a business plan and designed all the promotional material we were going to need. Also the entire company structure and roles within the company were created. When all the work was done and the company was ready for launch, nothing happened. None of us had actually thought about if we actually liked the product we were going to sell and it turned out that none of us had any relation to the product whatsoever. The big lesson here, and I can say this now with added information from Saras Sarasvathy, is that we just wanted to be entrepreneurs; we did not start small, with something that worked on a small scale, which could gradually grow. We had no relation to our product. My plans for the future are once again to become an entrepreneur but this time the field business will be one of great personal interest: 3d animation design. Succes Bijles cost each one of us around 100 euro and a lot of time, in return it provided us with this valuable lesson.

Design & Research Processes

The new design process used in my last project yielded good results; the process contained a large amount of research since my goal was to have my concept backed up by as much scientific research as possible. As can be read in my reflection on the project, the research phase took time that could have been used for the development of a working prototype, but I am happy that I chose this path. The strong foundation for the concept is in my opinion worth the cost of a finished prototype, since finishing a prototype to a truly proper usable level would need many more iterations than could not be properly done in one semester if the concept of the product had to be developed in that same semester. The involvement of a client during the development process followed by a period of intensive user testing and further development through user feedback for example could take on itself more time than one semester.

This was the first time the research period in my project used a significant amount of time of the total process, I think in the future I could try to balance the research and prototype development a little bit more, but this does not have to yield better results per se.

Teamwork and Communication

For the past 1.5 years I have been individually, with regard to study; all projects (B2.2, B3.2) and my minor in Psychology, where all done completely individually. The upsides of an individual process really work in my advantage. I for example love to work at night, for some reason my mind comes to life when it’s dark outside. Distractions at this hour are so low that concentrated time spans can go far over 2 hours, something near to impossible in a social environment. On the other hand, I love to function in a team; in my B2.1 I worked with a great team on the FluoraLife Project. This was one of the most intensive working periods of my life, we made shifts that near the end easily went over 12 hours per day, and this enabled us to pull off an ambitious prototype of a product that was loved by many. Within the four person team I functioned as the “Jack of all Trades”. I spoke to all team members during the process, settled arguments between the members and helped in every aspect of the project, dividing my attention over the many aspects that needed a little extra push, tying many loose ends together. I always wanted to fulfill this function within a team since I have a friend, who is Project Manager at Capgemini. Capgemini rents their Project Managers to companies that have projects to be managed and need experts to do this. The work my friend does really interest me because of its diversity and the flexibility in functions that is required from him. I think my interest in a broad field of topics, coaching and psychology could be extended to project management. I hope to one day manage a team of animators in my own animation design studio.

As I earlier described in my reflection on my previous project I did experience that communicating with others can be a powerful tool for creative input to a project. This I do miss while working on my own, so I think a good balance between the two should be the optimal solution.